The next iPhone could get rear 3D sensors

If true, this could give the iPhone for 2019 new tricks.

Gordon Gottsegen CNET contributor
Gordon Gottsegen is a tech writer who has experience working at publications like Wired. He loves testing out new gadgets and complaining about them. He is the ghost of all failed Kickstarters.
Gordon Gottsegen
2 min read

Apple is reportedly working on a rear-facing 3D sensor system for its 2019 iPhone, according to Bloomberg. If true, this type of hardware could bring big improvements to the iPhone's powers to fuse the real world with the world on your screen.

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The iPhone X uses its own kind of 3D sensing tech.

Juan Garzón/CNET

Apple's already using a 3D sensor in the iPhone X. New features on the iPhone X like Face ID and Animojis owe their existence to the iPhone's TrueDepth camera system, which uses infrared and 3D sensors to create a three dimensional map of your face. This makes Apple's facial recognition more accurate and it's the reason you can't unlock an iPhone X with just a photograph.

Now Bloomberg reports that Apple plans to bring similar 3D mapping to iPhone's rear cameras. According to the report, this won't simply be the iPhone X notch slapped onto the back of the phone. Instead it's said to be redesigned and intended for AR. Apple may also keep the TrueDepth camera system on the front, allowing the sensors to exist on both the front and back of the phone.

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The new 3D sensors are apparently still in the early phase. The report cites Apple manufacturers and people familiar with the plans. But we do know that Apple CEO Tim Cook is a big fan of AR, saying that its impact will be huge. So it may not be surprising that Apple will focus on new iPhone hardware that creates a richer AR experience.

Apple is separately rumored to release three iPhone X styled phones next year, and that all of them could come with Face ID. Although these features are what make the iPhone X new and exciting, Apple may make them mainstays of the iPhone line in the future.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.